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Thursday, August 11, 2005


Day 22: Pittsburgh

PIttsburgh buildings

I am not being ironic when I say this: Pittsburgh is cool.

Like Minneapolis, it looks big for its size. Only about 300,000 people call this handsome city home, but its surplus of bridges, tunnels, stairways, and great buildings suggests a much bigger place.

Walking around and looking at Pittsburgh was oddly satisfying, and it got me thinking about three of my personal criteria for a cool city: Hills, water, and good architecture.

PIttsburgh from the South Side Slopes

Hills are good because they allow a chance to back up from the city and put it in perspective. This shot was taken from Pittsburgh’s South Side Slopes, where the Monongahela Incline (something like an elevator running on tracks) hauls you up a San Francisco-worthy hill.

PIttsburgh at night

So long as it’s impossible to ignore, water adds life to a city. Pittsburgh’s three rivers, including the Monongahela in this photo, churn with pleasure boats, jet skis, and coal barges. Fishermen and swimmers line the shore in spots. Waterfront parks buzz with bikes and joggers.

PPG Place

A variety of interesting architecture can make the difference between a boring city and a cool one. PPG Place isn’t my favorite kind of building, but it sure makes a statement (PLATE GLASS GOOD!). It’s shown here reflected in the mirrored tiles of a sculpture in the plaza.